As Ohanaeze wades in
Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Igbo traders in Alaba International Market, have recounted their ordeals in the hands of the agents of Lagos State Government, demanding explanations to why their contributions to the development of the state would be reciprocated with hostility.
The traders made this known to the delegation of Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by the President General, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, during a fact-finding mission of Ohanaeze to the market.
This is coming on the heels of the recent demolition of some shops in the market mostly owned by Igbo traders.
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, quoted the President of the Alaba International Market (AIM), Chief Camilus Amajuoyi, as commending the Ohanaeze delegation for responding to the yearnings of the traders “over the callousness meted the Igbo population in Alaba market.”
Amajuoyi in the statement made available to Ikengaonline, expressed surprise that soon after their support to His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on his re-election for a second term in Office, “the authorities of the Lagos State have served them with a calamity that can only be contemplated on an enemy zone in a war time.”
“The road to AIM is in a very bad condition. Also, all the road networks in the market are in a detestable condition. The roads are worst during the rainy season as the pot-holes are always filled with water, making it extremely difficult for people to navigate the roads.
It read in part: “Lagos State authorities marked about three buildings for demolition; according to them, the buildings were distressed and could collapse anytime. Surprisingly, they ended up destroying over thirty buildings at a very short notice. The worst part of the tragedy is that the lands are being resold out with fencing going on. Worst still, the authorities are not contemplating compensations on the properties that were officially purchased with all the relevant documents in place.
“Over two hundred mobile police men were present when the structures were being pulled down indicates that the State Government is aware of the demolition exercise.
“After the imported goods or containers are cleared at the Lagos Wharf, the Agbero or those who claim to be agents of the State Government intercept the goods and sometimes they pay up to Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200,000) per container before it gets to the warehouse.
“For anybody to build a house on a property he has duly purchased, he pays fees/levy at the foundation level; another fee/levy at the first decking; for any other decking, a fee will be paid; even to put glasses, attracts another levy.
“The customers are daily embarrassed after they have purchased goods from the AIM; the buyer of the goods is levied between five and ten thousand naira without which the goods may be seized or damaged.
“All they need from the State is to streamline or define the rules of engagement with the Alaba businessmen so that they will understand their legitimate boundaries.
“Every corpse of an Igbo that dies in Lagos is always taken to the ancestral home. Therefore, the Igbo in Lagos lay no claim or pretensions over the ownership of Lagos.
“Remarkably, all the properties we occupy in Lagos are never procured by force; we either buy or rent with official legal documents in place.
“We pay all the legitimate dues to the Lagos State, thereby adding values to the economy of the State; why all the indignities?
“The committee that has been set by the state government to investigate into the Alaba tragedy does not have a representative from the Alaba International Market; how can we shave a man in his absence?
“Over one million Igbo young men and women in the AIM are not asking government for any employment; we are self-employed. All we ask the Lagos State Government is the conducive environment for our businesses and a cordial relationship with both our neighbours and the host communities.”
The statement also quoted Iwuanyanwu as expressing fury over the magnitude of the demolition and the attendant negative impact on Igbo traders.
According to the statement, Iwuanyanwu faulted the demolition of the shops without adequate notice, arguing that every Nigeria has right to own a property in any part of the country.
The Ohanaeze helmsman further argued that if Nigerians could own property abroad, it makes no sense demolishing properties genuinely acquired by any Nigerian in any part of the country without justifications.
“The Igbo Leader explained that if a Nigerian can buy property in any part of the world, there is no reason a Nigerian will have his/her property demolished in any part of Nigeria, at a very short notice, and without justifications,” Iwuanyanwu said.
According to the statement, Chief Iwuanyanwu urged “Igbo traders to remain unfazed and in high spirit, assuring them that he will stand against any form of injustice against any Igbo, anywhere and anytime.”
Chief Iwuanyanwu commended the Igbo spirit of hard work, perseverance, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and resilience, and assuring the traders “that with the Almighty God, they will definitely overcome the immediate challenges.”
The statement further said that Ohanaeze leadership had set up a committee to assess the cost of the demolished shops and report back to it for transmission to Igbo Governors for further actions.